On pulling up roots

On a train heading North, mackin’ on salami. Just spent a week helping ma pull up roots, getting ready for the next phase of her life. Looking out the window into people’s backyards, thinking about all the useless crap we accumulate over the years. The longer you stay put, the worse it gets.

To be fair, mom has great taste. But on some level, all useless stuff is junk – great taste just makes it harder to divest yourself of the past.

Letting go is hard. New circumstances mean you don’t get to look to the garage as a catch-basin for every shiny thing that catches your eye. Native American artifacts, antique furniture, classic LPs, rare fabrics… all beautiful, all meaningful, all lacking much in the way of practical value.

Formats expire – cassettes and their players, VHS tapes and decks, records and their tuntables… all superceded now. School drawings and papers by my brother and me, and photos? My dad was (is) a master archivist. The drawers of snapshots go deep as you wanna go. That’s history you can’t dispose of.. but neither can you just flip through a few albums and make a judgment. So amazing that it all exists, all those honeycomb-encased moments. But all a burden too. Weird to see how different the print quality of various development houses was over the years – some shots over 40 years old look like they were shot yesterday, others half that old have gone yellow or purple, or have been virtually lost to the fade of time.

I was five in 1969, when Apollo 11 landed on the moon and Armstrong took his walk. Our family sat on the bed and watched in awe, knowing it was one of history’s great moments, unfolding in our lifetimes. What I didn’t know at the time was that my folks clipped newspapers for days around the event, and put them in a time capsule for my brother and me. Discovered the musty manila envelope last night and was moved, knowing that they had had that foresight.

I have a deep connection to Morro Bay and always will. It’s where I became self-aware as a teen, where I learned to surf and dive and build. It’s where I spent countless hours on the beach and in the woods, boy becoming man. My first experience of a sense of awe in the face of nature was on top of Black Mountain, where I often hiked (and did again a few nights ago, possibly for the last time).

Morro Bay is where I became a punk and a hippie, where I had my first jobs, where I made the circle of friends I was to keep for life.

It was an amazing place to grow up, large enough to not be podunk, small enough to be innocent and funky. Big enough to have a post office and a headshop and a sheet music store, too small for a mall.

A big part of me would love to move back one day – can’t imagine a better place to raise the squirt. We’re pretty entrenched in the Bay Area now, and would have to move some pretty big mountains to make a move like that. So it’s been comforting to have mom there, so we can visit a few times a year. But now, homeplate is gone, at least for the forseeable future. Trips to see ma will not include Morro Bay, a hard pill to swallow. But chapters have to close, and mom will be much better off (no, we’re not putting her in a home :)

Deep down, something in me knows I haven’t seen the last of this place. It’s got a magnetic grip on me – a grip I don’t expect will lessen with time.

Goodbye, boyhood home. It’s been awesome.

One Reply to “On pulling up roots”

  1. Scot, I’ve been meaning to say for a couple weeks that I really enjoyed this essay. It’s thoughtful and heartfelt and I kept thinking about it long after I’d read it.

    I don’t blame you for casting a regretful eye on Morro Bay. It’s a beautiful part of the world, even for someone who didn’t grow up there.

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